An adoption centre did pause adoptions of rabbits for fear they’d be used as food, but there’s no evidence it’s widespread

24 March 2020
What was claimed

A small animal centre stopped new adoptions because people were buying them for food.

Our verdict

The West Berkshire small animal centre was concerned that people might use it’s rabbits for food and so paused adoptions. The RSPCA said it hasn’t received any reports of these animals being killed for food.

What was claimed

A chicken welfare association has paused hen adoptions because people were buying them for food.

Our verdict

It is true the British Hen Welfare trust has paused adoptions until the Covid-19 situation improves, but it is not clear why. The RSPCA said it hasn’t received any reports of these animals being killed for food.

A post on Facebook claims several animal rescue centres had to stop adoptions in fear that people were purchasing rabbits and chickens to eat has been shared thousands of times. 

The post says “West Berk’s small animal rescue has received numerous messages asking to purchase all of our bunnies at once. The chicken welfare association has also stopped adoptions. People are buying animals as LIVE FOOD because of the food shortage.”

It is true that a group in Berkshire paused rabbit adoptions out of fear that the rabbits were being bought to be eaten, supposedly due to food shortages during the current coronavirus pandemic. 

However the RSPCA told Full Fact that they are not aware of any cases of people trying to buy pets as food. As such, there is no reason to believe that such activity is widespread.

In a Facebook post from 22 March, one of West Berkshire Small Animal Rescue’s admins said they are not letting anyone new register for adoption. It said “I have had numerous messages and phone calls now that were highly suspicious. 1 claimed to want the bunnies for "livestock" and another admitting to wanting to use the bunnies for meat but that they would be killed "nicely".”

It is also true that a chicken welfare trust has stopped new adoptions, although the reason for this is unclear. 

The British Hen Welfare Trust announced that it has received unprecedented interest in adopting hens, but are “now unable to carry out any hen collections or rehomings until the Covid-19 outbreak has passed.” It also adds that all its staff are now working from home.

Full Fact has reached out to the group to ask for the reason behind this. An alternative explanation for the rise of interest in hens could be the ongoing reports of people looking to buy chickens so they can produce their own eggs.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as true because the message from the animal rescue organisation was real, although there is no evidence the practice is widespread.

Full Fact fights bad information

Bad information ruins lives. It promotes hate, damages people’s health, and hurts democracy. You deserve better.